Welcome to an article about the fundamentals of Tempo in Flesh & Blood TCG. I’ve written many articles like this geared toward beginner and intermediate players who want to bolster their understanding of the game and quickly improve as players. These fundamental articles span many websites such as Channel Fireball, Rathe Times, and now my personal website. Each article is centered around a single, standalone topic. But together, all of these topics weave together to comprehensively cover the mechanics of the game. This catalog of content will continue to be expanded as new mechanics are introduced, and as I write more of the planned topics. You can read these articles in any order you would like, I would just encourage you to try to implement what you learn in your own games and practice. 

Let’s jump in!

My Flesh & Blood Fundamental Articles:

Competitive Play Introduction

Tempo in Flesh and Blood can be a difficult concept to understand. It’s not like Hearthstone or Magic: the Gathering where you can stick a permanent on the board, and use it to beat your opponent down turn after turn. Tempo in Flesh and Blood will typically equate to how many cards you are able to comfortably keep and play rather than spend defending yourself and your life total. You can sacrifice your life, a valuable resource in Flesh and Blood, for short or long-term tempo. Having a large lead in life can allow you to hold and keep tempo, even when faced by immense pressure from your opponent. Remember, you only need one life point to win the game.

Like other TCGs, Tempo does equate to how efficiently you can use your cards each and every turn. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the more cards you have in your hand, the more likely you are to assemble a powerful combo and generate more offensive pressure. In general, if you can avoid keeping a card in your hand when you end the turn (that isn’t going to arsenal) you want to do so. Card Advantage plays heavily into Tempo, and by avoiding card disadvantage (having an extra card in your hand when you enter your draw phase) you are more likely to hit the pieces you need. 

I will note when you do end up with excess cards in your hand outside the first two turns of the game, that usually means that you do have tempo and are putting more pressure on your opponent than they can comfortably answer. In this situation, where these extra cards are not being pressured out of your hand, you should not feel bad or perceive that you are efficiently using your resources or suboptimally playing your cards.

Toward the end of a Flesh and Blood game, have you found yourself attacking your opponent turn after turn, forcing them to block with 3-4 cards then simply pass the turn back to you and allowing you to do it again? You have tempo.

How about the other way around? If you are feeling immense pressure from your opponent and feel compelled to use your cards to defend yourself rather than attack the following turn, your opponent likely has tempo.

Flesh & Blood games are very back and forth. Tempo is usually traded throughout the game on both sides and swung in one player’s favor on turns when power cards are played. To quote myself:

“Power Cards are typically the Reds of the list, the strongest cards that you will almost always want to play out rather than using them to defend your life total. In general, these cards will not pitch for resources well, so you need to have the resource curve (the combination of blues, yellows, and reds) in your list to support paying your costs as required. Typically, in more aggressive decks, resource costs are lower than they are in something more resource-intensive like Guardian decks that tend to run more blue cards than most other classes. Hero specialization cards will almost always fall into the power cards camp.”

As expected, power cards are the cards in the list that have the greatest influence on shaping the outcome of each game of Flesh & Blood. Play them correctly, and you’re sure to put staggering pressure on your opponent and create some exciting games. Of course, most good decklists can’t only consist of red power cards. The list would usually lack the resource generation to pay costs outside of ‘cheerios & redline’-type strategies that rely on zero-cost red cards and go-again to fuel their aggression. Of course, these types of decks are extremely vulnerable to any kind of ice-based resource disruption like Frostbite, Channel Lake Frigid, and attacks like Spinal Crush.

The final crucial component of tempo I want to discuss is the concept of a ‘Pivot Turn’. A pivot turn is typically an inflection point in the game when a player uses the resources at their disposal and tries to launch a strong counterattack, usually taking a lot of damage in order to keep 4-5 of their strongest cards in their hand. You’ll know a pivot turn when you see one, and they almost always revolve around the use of power cards. Taking a big hit, and swinging back with (hopefully) more damage or disruption than your opponent can deal with is central to this concept. If you’re trying to execute a pivot turn of your own, you are trying to do something powerful enough to justify not blocking a large amount of damage. Pull a pivot turn off correctly, and you’ll swing the tempo in your favor!

Understanding tempo in Flesh & Blood comes with practice. It’s central to building an understanding of the economy of the game and actions—it’s what defines the back and forth nature of the game. As you play and practice more, look to actively assess who has tempo in what points in the game. Try to identify when your opponent is trying to steal tempo, and also assess what you can potentially do via a pivot turn to take the tempo back if you lack it. 

Consider this a primer in Flesh & Blood tempo. I’ll be expanding and going in-depth on some examples, as well as a more theoretical view of the concept of tempo in future articles mapped to the project!

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